Gilda Williams

  • Dustin Yellin, 10 Parts, 2015–16, glass, collage, acrylic paint, 3' 11 1/2“ × 20' 4 3/4” × 1' 4 3/4".

    Dustin Yellin

    Opening during Amsterdam’s busy annual Art Weekend in November, Dustin Yellin’s marvelous exhibition “10 Parts” seemed to draw the biggest crowd. Swarms of happy viewers spent hours pressing their noses to the glass surfaces of Yellin’s aquarium-like sculptures, reminding me of kids staring dreamily into an Apple-store window. Buried within each massive, light-filled, transparent block––a fat sandwich of thirty-one sheets of half-inch-thick glass––were thousands of tiny pictures extracted from encyclopedias, science manuals, magazines. These cutout images are typically one-half to two inches

  • James Richards, Radio at Night, 2015, digital video, color, sound, 8 minutes. Installation view. Photo: Mark Blower.

    James Richards

    James Richards’s wall-size film-and-audio work Radio at Night, 2015, shows faces and figures whose identities remain unknown: a pair of staring eyes in a close-up clip from a vintage science film about a nervous condition that makes the eyes rapidly twitch; a trio of surgically masked doctors beneath the glare of operating-room lamps; a group of happy revelers emerging from a masked ball. The many animals we see are similarly anonymous—never beloved, named pets, but rather a flock of birds flying in random formation over a rippling sea, a row of freshly slaughtered pigs hanging bloodlessly

  • View of “Amalia Ulman,” 2016. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

    Amalia Ulman

    “On the Internet, no one knows you’re an artist.” These words, written in 2010 by critic Ed Halter, expressed the identity crisis suffered by early online artists, swamped by legions of teenage internet virtuosos whose proficiency with cut-and-paste culture often exceeded that of most MFA grads. Argentinean-born, Spanish-raised, UK-educated, Los Angeles–based Amalia Ulman is among those who in subsequent years carved a role for artists operating in the digital youniverse. In her online performance Excellences & Perfections, 2014, Ulman fabricated an idealized social-media avatar by feeding her

  • View of “Making & Unmaking,” 2016. Background: Two untitled works from Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s series “Musclemen,” 2012. Foreground: Céline Condorelli, Average Spatial Compositions, 2015. Photo: Mark Blower.

    “Making & Unmaking”

    The opening-night atmosphere at “Making & Unmaking” was exuberant. Visitors—some magnificently dressed in bright, eclectically patterned clothing by the exhibition’s curator, designer Duro Olowu—marveled at the 170 stunning, little-known artworks and objects assembled. These ranged from a one-hundred-year-old Congolese textile, with its nearly twenty-foot-long non-repeating maplike pattern, to an immense drawing by the young Australian artist Donna Huddleston. Her Warriors, 2015, in gouache and colored pencil, depicts a bizarre procession that prompted such disparate associations as

  • Stan Douglas, Them Secret Agent, 2015, six-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 53 minutes 35 seconds. Inspector Heat (Marcello Urgeghe).

    Stan Douglas

    “A less amusing set of people never filled the imaginary world of a novelist,” carped a September 1907 review of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, published in Country Life, the stuffy English periodical (still going strong) devoted to racing, golfing, and the horsey set. Conrad’s dark novel, set in 1886, dared to portray the nascent Victorian-era underworld complete with a corruptible police force, foreign-born anarchists, and a sympathetic underclass. These shadowy nineteenth-century figures have been recast as spies, backhanded police commissioners, and dubious embassy officials in Stan

  • Caroline Achaintre, Shell Flush, 2016, ceramic, patent leather, 35 1/2 × 13 × 7".

    Caroline Achaintre

    Suddenly, Caroline Achaintre’s work seems to be everywhere. A stand-out in the current British Art Show, with a recent solo display at Tate Britain, Achaintre is now preparing for a major presentation opening in July at the warehouse-size BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, UK. The French-German sculptor has lived in London since the late 1990s; her gradual ubiquity might have gone temporarily undetected owing to her staggering variety of artmaking techniques. The sensational, colorful, hairy wall rugs that emerged just over a decade ago suggested a signature style, but there were

  • A visitor listens to Katrina Palmer’s The Loss Adjusters, 2015, Easton, Isle of Portland, April 24, 2015. Photo: Brendan Buesnal.

    Katrina Palmer

    The stories told in Katrina Palmer’s audio walk The Loss Adjusters, 2015, are complicated narratives, 150 million years in the making. Sculptor/writer Palmer scripted three eerie ten-minute fictions, which visitors could hear narrated through headphones as they were guided on a walk across this four-mile formation of solid rock off England’s south coast. Basically a giant beached boulder, the Isle of Portland was created in the Jurassic period when trillions of tons’ worth of organic matter compacted here over countless millennia, gradually solidifying into vast deposits of luminous Portland

  • Anna-Bella Papp, Untitled, 2014, clay, 12 1/8 × 11 1/8 × 1 1/8".

    Anna-Bella Papp

    Occasionally I hear a sublime new song with a melody so perfect and infectious, I feel that, surely, this music must have existed before. Impossible for such timeless harmonies to have been invented only now! Anna-Bella Papp’s small, flat sculptures provoke the same sensation. Some artist or other must have previously landed upon the irresistible idea of these tile-like slabs of unglazed clay, laid out on smooth white tables, with unique markings that produce a singular world in low relief. The longest edge of each of the twenty-six works in her recent London exhibition measures about twelve

  • View of “Pierre Huyghe,” 2014. From left: Nymphéas Transplant (14–18), 2014; La déraison, 2014; Nymphéas Transplant (12.21.1914), 2014.

    Pierre Huyghe

    The white cube is “a curious piece of real estate,” as Brian O’Doherty once wrote; with Pierre Huyghe, this property just gets curiouser and curiouser. Ordinarily, an art gallery is a clean, bright place, the exclusive domain of Homo sapiens. In Huyghe’s exhibition “In. Border. Deep.,” it became a dark, cavernous home for strange life forms.

    The space was sliced into two oddly shaped halves. The first housed some extraordinary variations on the idea of “living sculpture,” along with a wall work, about which more later. In the second, further subdivided into two irregular black boxes, two short

  • View of “Marvin Gaye Chetwynd,” 2014.

    Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

    This past winter, London was noticeably flush with terrific exhibitions by women artists working with collage and montage: Hannah Höch’s tiny cut-up miracles at the Whitechapel Gallery, Hito Steyerl’s spliced videos rocking the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Trisha Baga’s sprawling 3-D moving-image installations at the Zabludowicz Collection. A further addition to this collage overload came in the form of Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s room-size installation Canterbury Tales, 2014. The whole ground-floor gallery—every last inch of the four walls, the floor, and a flimsy paper hut erected at

  • Erik van Lieshout, Stephan, 2013, black-and-white photocopies on particleboard, wood, 10' 6“ x 8' 2 3/8” x 2 3/8".

    Erik van Lieshout

    Downstairs was a dense, labyrinthine sculptural installation: a crowded maze of plywood structures, photographs, collages, sketches, wooden cutouts, and photocopies. This “Private View,” as Erik van Lieshout’s show as a whole was called, was seething with anger (I HATE MY FATHER stenciled on a white ground) and Oedipal details (a cutout face of the artist’s mother roughly glued atop the body of a model from a girlie magazine). Recurring throughout was the haunted image of a young man, flashing a peace sign and bearing an air of distant melancholy.

    None of this quite prepared us for what was

  • View of “Philomene Pirecki,” 2013. Foreground: Reflecting White (3rd Generation), 2013. Background: White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13) (detail), 2013.

    Philomene Pirecki

    Dominating the first room in Philomene Pirecki’s exhibition “Image Persistence” was a combination of three overlapping individual artworks, together best described as a mixed-media mural. The background work, White Wall, Artist’s Studio (11:22, 11:22, fluorescent light, 6-8-13), 2013, includes about a dozen twenty-by-sixteen-inch photographic posters, each showing one of two extreme close-ups of the artist’s cinder-block studio wall, upon which is affixed a snapshot of the same studio detail, all fixed atop the partially repainted gallery wall. Hanging upon White Wall were two other artworks: